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I couldn’t do a blog about drinking and not include Germany because it ranks fifth in the top heaviest drinking nations and also because it has a special law toward drinking that is found in very few places. So in honor of Oktoberfest this weekend in San Francisco, let’s put on our lederhosen and dive into Germany.

I titled this post “Beer as Cheap as Water” because it really is in Germany and this has a huge affect on drinking culture. If an alcoholic beverage is the same price as water that means that it is readily available because it is treated like a soda. For example here in the Unites States a pint or bottle of beer is about 5 dollars at the least and (if you are going to a Giant’s game) 10 dollars at the most( and yes we do have our dollar beer night for our college students but that is only one night a week). As opposed to water and other non alcoholic beverages which are about 1 to 3 dollars at the most. We do this in our country because for the average American ,  it makes consumers think that alcohol is something to be limited because it isn’t cheap to buy.  So this makes consumers think about their alcohol consumption even if it is just because of price which limits their level of intoxication. For example maybe an average American will have a 15 dollar limit for alcohol for one night which buys them about 3 drink, now if that person had the same limit but alcohol was 2 dollars a bottle that would buy him seven drinks which will get the average person under the legal limit. Therefore the Germans treat alcohol much more commonly than we do here which means they consume more alcohol.

According to an article titled, “The Highs and Lows of Germany’s Drinking Culture”, this is one of the contributing factors to Germany’s problem with alcohoism. Also in Germany alcohol it isn’t illegal for alcohol to be consumed in public places like subways and parks; it is also sold in almost every local place from newspaper stands to coffee shops. Recent Data says that in Germany 1.7 million people need alcohol treatment and 2.7 million use alcohol in a harmful way. This is out of Germany’s 88 million people. As opposed to The United States which has a population of 300 million people and there are 7.91 million people dependent on alcohol and need treatment.

Now let’s get to the second part of why Germany is important because of its different law for alcohol consumption. In Germany there are two different drinking ages depending on the alcohol proof; 16 years for beer and wine and 18 years for spirits ( hard liquor). There has been some talk  about changing Germany’s drinking age to 18  because alcohol is such a problem for the country but this will be quite a shock for citizens. Therefore people agree that Germany needs a comprehensive approach on alcohol to change the drinking culture.


This picture was taken right after a sucker was taken from this child's mouth. Picture courtesy of Ginny Atkins Photography

I also found an interesting blog from an American woman who has been visiting Germany and researching the alcohol consumption culture there. The blog is titled, “The drinking culture in Germany”  and in her most recent post on May 26,2008 she in her blog post titled, “You Will  Always Want What You Can’t Have” she brings up an interesting point on underage drinking in Germany. Coming from The United States where the drinking age is 21 year the author of this blog thought the drinking age in Germany was really low. Therefore she figured that there wouldn’t be any underage drinking  in Germany, however she was surprised to find out kids under the age of 16 still want to drink and do so at private house parties for the thrill of it. Since alcohol is illegal for these kids they have the urge to drink because of that. She then tied this to the drinking age in the United States and thought what is the sense of lowering the drinking age in the US if this same situation could potentially be the case for us as well. I believe this is a good issue to bring up, and it surprised me that people under the age of 16 drink in Germany. However this is always going to be an issue for humans because it is a human condition, whether you are 16 or 25 people always want what they can’t have whether it is alcohol or designer shoes. I think it is a good point to consider but we shouldn’t not lower the drinking age because of this but maybe have a higher punishment for underage drinking?


One Comment

  1. I didn’t know that Germany also has that drinking age which we consider ” underage.” It’s surprising for me to know that their alcohol intake is too large which makes their alcohol treatment rate too high as compared to ours. I also think that the lower the drinking age, the more likely the underaged tend to drink.

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